Returning Hereford players from the 2011 team already had motivation to beat visiting Catonsville on Friday night.
Last year, at Catonsville, they suffered a 50-14 loss that left them 2-3 in a season they would fail to make the playoffs.
But, two days before this year’s rematch, the Bulls were dealt a serious emotional loss when former teammate and senior Jay Stovall passed away.The team wore decals with the Stovall’s nickname “Tex” on the back of their helmet.
“It was a very difficult week for us with the passing of Jay Stovall,” coach Steve Turnbaugh said.
Although he wasn’t on this year’s roster, Turnbaugh and the players had him in their hearts as another cherished member of the Hereford football family.
“As far as we are concerned, he was on the team,” said Turnbaugh, who noted he played the past three seasons as a fullback and linebacker, but had some “academic issues” this year.
A moment of silence before the game — and the viewing the day after it— would not be enough therapy for their painful loss.
But, this year’s 56-12 triumph brought some fleeting cheers from the Hereford faithful and temporary smiles for the grieving players.
“They responded,” Turnbaugh said. “People can do some amazing things under such circumstances.”
Hereford raced to 22-6 halftime lead and cruised to the victory.
Hereford senior quarterback Ryan Jones rushed for two short touchdowns and senior running back Ted Neubauer scored on a 3-yard touchdown run in the first half.
Jay Patti kicked a 28-yard field goal as the first half expired, giving the Bulls the 16-point lead.
The Bulls improved to 4-1 with the victory and Catonsville dropped to 3-2.
Hereford outgained the Comets 161-59 in the first half with 115 yards on the ground.
The Bulls also had two big pass plays, from Jones to Andrew Fisher and Ted Neubauer that netted 46 yards and set up touchdowns.
The game was delayed when starting Catonsville defensive back Delray Ragland suffered a seizure before the game and was taken away by ambulance.
Ragland was replacing Dom Johnson, who was injured two weeks earlier in a win over Woodlawn.
Trailing 13-6, the Comets also suffered another key loss early in the second quarter when DeAndre Lane suffered a hamstring injury on a 14-yard sweep.
The University of Maryland-bound running back had to abort what could have been a long gain when he suffered the injury.
Catonsville continued the drive and picked up a first down on a 4-yard run by Julian Singletary that moved the ball to the 39 yard-line, but Hereford followed with its most important defensive stop of the night.
Nick Salatino broke up a deep pass on first down and Brock Turnbaugh and Gavin Chiodi stuffed Joseth Hylton for a yard on second down.
Turnbaugh, playing with a cast on his broken wrist after missing the past game and a half, loved the tempo of the defense.
‘”We go hard and fast and we fill holes and play great team defense,” Turbaugh said.
On third down, Graham Hensley stopped Keon Webb for a yard gain and pressure by Brennan Butz forced an errant throw by quarterback Justin Sprankle on fourth down that gave the potent Bull offense the ball.
They ran with it, outscoring the Comets 43-6 the rest of the way.
“Last year, that score was the opposite and this feels real good to be able to do that to them,” Jones said. “They are a great team and they have great players and this feels really good.”
Jones scored on a keeper with under 20 seconds left in the half and the Bulls capitalized on a fumble on the Comets next play from scrimmage and Patti’s field goal on the final play of the half.
Jones scored another touchdown in the second half and Neubauer popped a 77-yard scoring run and John Bauer added a pair of touchdown runs.
Jones praised the offensive line of tackles Chris Taormino and Graham Hensley, guards Cam Snyder and Brennan Butz and center Brock Turnbaugh.
Catonsville’s scoring came on a 1-yard touchdown run by Joseth Hylton in the first half and a 57-yard run by Devin Ray early in the second half.
Ray replaced starting fullback and linebacker Julian Singletary, who was injured late in the first half.
But it was the Hereford offense that stole the show and pointed them toward a playoff berth.
“We are going to do everything we can to win out and get to the playoffs and go as far as we can.” Jones said.